U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today reported that the final version of a key spending bill contains millions of dollars to address transportation and other needs in Southern New Mexico.
A House-Senate panel has finalized the fiscal year 2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies spending bill, and it is now poised for a final vote. But Bingaman said the funding is in jeopardy because the White House is threatening to veto the measure.
"This spending bill directs millions of dollars to New Mexico. I hope the president changes his mind about vetoing this important bill," Bingaman said.
At Bingaman's request, the fiscal year 2008 Transportation Appropriations Bill contains $1.2 million for the City of Las Cruces' Main Street revitalization project. Funding will help with phase II of the downtown project, which includes construction of a new roadway, sidewalks and streetscape enhancements such as planters and decorative lighting.
"The City of Las Cruces is working to improve the downtown district and the funding included in this bill would help in their efforts," Bingaman said.
Bingaman said he was also pleased the bill includes $1.005 million he requested for a bus facility in Grant County. Corre Caminos, the county's bus service provider, would use the funding to plan and construct a multi-modal terminal facility. The new building will house administrative and operational staff and a secured facility to perform repairs and house vehicles. Corre Caminos is operating in its sixth year and also provides some services to Hidalgo and Luna counties.
Bingaman was also pleased the bill set aside an additional $3 million for New Mexico's highway bridges. The additional funding would supplement the $315 million that the underlying bill already provides to the state for transportation improvement projects, including interstate highways, bridges and major roads on the national highway system. New Mexico would decide how to use the extra money to repair or replace highway bridges.
The bill also includes funding for the following southern New Mexico projects:
$480,000 for RoadRunner Transit in Las Cruces
Funding will be used to purchase four Diesel para-transit buses to replace four aging vans. Replacement of these older vans will improve operation efficiency and provide more suitable transportation options for our patrons. Bingaman secured $1 million in FY 2006 for Las Cruces to purchase buses and $375,000 in FY 2004.
$200,000 for Las Cruces Families and Youth, Inc. Transitional Living Program
Funding will help to expand and improve the quantity and quality of services offered by the program, which serves low-income persons, and to expand the number of clients served.
$1.248 million for Statewide Bus and Bus Facilities
Funding would be used for 45 buses and bus-related equipment and facilities to be used at the following: Angel Fire, Belen, Carlsbad, Clovis, Grant County, Hobbs, Pueblo of Laguna, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, NCI, Navajo Nation, Portales, Red River, Roswell, Taos, Zia Therapy, Zuni Zee Transit, Rio Arriba County, South Central COG, Grants/Milan/Cibola Transit, Care-A-Van, Sandoval County, and Tucumcari Housing Authority.
Also, for the fifth year in a row the bill includes language Bingaman wrote that would ensure communities, such as Hobbs, Carlsbad, Clovis, Alamogordo and Silver City, are not required to pay to maintain their commercial air service.
The bill also funds other initiatives Bingaman supports, including the following:
- $120,000 for the Boys and Girls club of Socorro County to construct a new facility to serve the county.
- $50,000 for Luna County to renovate the Sunshine School to house a drug treatment program.